It’s remarkable for a festival to make it into its second or third year, never mind polishing off a whole decade. However, with the 10th Anniversary edition of Gottwood festival, it was plain to see why so many faces both old and new, show there year on year. This year the boutique festival, which takes place in Anglesey on the Northern tip of Wales, invited a wealth of DJs and artists to join them in the woods including the likes of DJ Stingray, Egyptian Lover, Shanti Celeste and Hunee to returning veterans Craig Richards, Andrew Weatherall and Move D. Although the heavens opened on the Friday morning of the festival leaving the site covered in thick mud, revellers didn’t let that bother them, bringing a palpable energy to the dance floors across the weekend. There was so much to see this year but a few sets really stood out for us; here’s our 10 highlights from the 10th edition…
Over at the Treehouse, we were swept away into the alternate reality of Robert Johnson’s very own. Swooping in to meet the lushness of Orson Wells’ final selections, the presence of Ata upon changeover was truly felt. An unsung king of his craft, Ata’s manipulation of the crowd is one synonymous with deep digging masters Lena Willikens and Vladimir Ivkovic. Whilst willingly attached to his puppet strings, trembling builds and chugging trance drops made for a tripped-out journey through the depths of his record bag. One performance we found particularly hard to part ways with, Ata’s selections had dancers locked in from start to finish, proving the effect of those long stints behind the booth at the Offenbach institution.
Night fell and Klasse Wrecks boss Luca Lozano took over Ricky’s Disco. In a similar fashion to Seven Hills, Lozano’s command over the dance floor is unarguable. As a feverish atmosphere came close to boiling point in the smoke-filled tent, it began to feel like a raucous house party; everyone was game for whatever would come next. Rattling through heavy breaks and warped garage cuts, both Lozano and the crowd’s attention remained untainted. Purple lights beamed down on the compact pool of oscillating heads in the pit of the dance, the cosmic disco ball overhead casting specks of magic all-around; the perfect time for the induction of those classic, emotive rave cuts. From open to close Luca Lozano appeared markedly composed as the party soared around him – a true artist following his very own groove.
The walled garden could be considered the beating heart of Gottwood. From the word go on Thursday, thumping kick drums pulsated from its core, administered by The Ghost and the trustee Butter Side Up gang. With the dawn of Friday also came the rain, yet, as Berlin’s Renate crew descended on The Garden, vibes were noticeably high. Assuming form, Savour The Moment promoter and Renate resident Marlon Hoffstadt stepped up to the decks. He delivered with a beaming smile and dancing-a-plenty from both himself and his gleeful peers; who bopped, embraced and even pretended to hammer him with a mallet? A set summed up by numerous dizzying moments; The Rave Yard Mix of Crystal Water’s ‘Gypsy Woman’ brought with it tears of real joy and a sense of raw camaraderie.
Over at Hypercolour’s takeover in the Walled Garden, Fever AM boss Mor Elian cast a distinct spell with a surprisingly ethereal effect. Punchy and aggressive in her charge, Elian stood resolute over onlookers. Yet, among the crunching, chest-pounding sounds, the twist in her charm is her unrivalled propensity for sounds that take one elsewhere; somehow we felt quite literally like we were floating on air. Deeply rooted in the very DNA of thick, sweaty and long underground missions, Mor Elian’s many encounters with the turntables shone brightly during those two hours in the Garden.
Paranoid London (Live)
After a storming set from Hoffstadt, there were only two guys who would stand up to the heights that had been reached during Renate’s takeover; real-talking acid house aficionados Paranoid London. If there was one place for the freaks on Friday night, it was most definitely the Walled Garden. Barmy by nature, the pair injected a crazed energy into the sea of charged dancers before them. As pummelling 303’s ricocheted through the tent dripping with acid licks, unnerving screeches and Mutado Pintado’s frank vocals soaked up just enough of the excess, with a dry and impassive sense of humour. An unrelenting 90 minutes at the controls brought with it a real obligation for a seismic finale and Paranoid London delivered the goods with the deployment of the highly hysterical original ‘Eating Glue’.
Peach B2B Nathan Micay
Closing out a weekend of incredible music, Toronto besties Peach and Nathan Micay held one final blow out at Ricky’s Disco. Both known for their energetic, unpredictable performances, the pair travelled above and beyond during their back to back set on the Sunday night. Their inherent sense of fun is part of their individual charm but together their force is quite something. With Peach’s appetite for combining savage techno and breaks with sassy house numbers, Micay’s fixation with fast paced trance delights made for the perfect blend. What is so distinctive about Peach and Micay’s relationship in the booth is their evident connection and further friendship which made their b2b even more of a delight to watch. As fireworks lit up the sky during the first half hour of their set, we were reminded that the 2019 edition of Gottwood had indeed been a landmark celebration.
Radioactive Man (Live)
We left the Walled Garden full of energy and made for The Curve where Radioactive Man took centre stage among his array of gadgets and gizmos. He serenaded the, by this time very damp, lakeside tent with one of the most sincere electronic live performances we’ve heard to date. The music of Keith Tenniswood a.k.a. Radioactive Man exhibits his genuine and grounded approach to his craft; something that truly manifested during his live set at The Curve. The flurrying bleeps and squelching claps were completely infectious; so much so that one bystander felt transformed into a mobile phone. As each piece generated, one that came together particularly well was ‘Where Them Lights Are’ taken from Tenniswood’s collaborative ‘L-R’ alias with London Modular Alliances’ Simon Lynch and Monoak.
Red Laser Takeover
The Ruf Dug-curated Ruf Kutz lab got an upgrade this year thanks to expert set-builders Fables. Gone was the DIY feel of its well-worn bungalow garage aesthetic, to be replaced by a “Mad Max meets Blade meets Subway meets the Crystal Maze industrial zone” feel, as Ruffy so eloquently described. Following the STW takeover on Thursday, we settled in for Friday with Red Laser Records. A drop-jawed Artwork didn’t appear this time round, but Sven Atterton slayed it as ever with a live set, alongside captain Il Bosco, Turnpennty, Pharoaoh Brunson, DJ Mega & The Social Service crew playing records either side. As was a feature with Ruffy’s Manchester crew throughout the weekend, this was a group with zero egos yet enough talent to go toe-to-toe with anyone on the lineup. Where else on-site could you find people dancing in cages, Cee-Fax AV displays and one of the DJs celebrating their 40th birthday by smashing a piñata of his own head as a rare Italo record rang out?
See Thru Hands
As if the almighty above was sticking two giant fingers up at our artist selection for Friday’s Lawn stage, the heavens opened moments before Sven Atterton opened as the first live act and didn’t stop until close. That didn’t deter debutants See Thru Hands who were next up, battling through the weather to pull enough people away from the cover to create a sight not often witnessed at Gottwood: dancing to “rock” music by the lake. Inverted commas used deliberately here, because the See Thru Hands channel the kind of rock that felt comfortable at a predominantly house and techno festival, channeling the spirit of other fusionists like Talking Heads and Golden Teacher. Guitarist Tommy was the unexpected star of the show who created a fan club during the set, who stayed behind for photos after. On a sunny day, this could’ve been a watershed moment for the band, but even with the drizzle the few who were present could sense it’ll only be a matter of time before that moment comes.
Seven Hills Records
Arriving into Saturday with the welcome presence of sunshine, Seven Hills Records swarmed Ricky’s Disco for a deep and meditative feast of dubbed-out bass cuts. Pricking the ears of many with an impressive and growing release offering including Binary Digit and a reissue of Subconscious Threat’s early 00’s release ‘Rons Mobile Disco’, plus a recently announced repress of Air Goose’s ‘Outernational Wah’. The Seven Hills guys have established their position as a band of clued up music heads, and with an equally knowledgable crowd in attendance, the intimacy of Ricky’s Disco fitted perfectly. A slot hotly discussed as one of the most difficult to fill, it’s safe to say Seven Hills delivered a profusely self-assured warm up for Saturday night’s proceedings.
Alongside our ten standout sets, listen below to some favourite tracks heard throughout the weekend…